Seek support in dealing with guilt about lifestyle choices

Posted by Sheryl M Ness, MA, RN @smness, Jan 14, 2016

Most of us do something on occasion that isn’t good for our health. Over-eating, being too sedentary, drinking to excess, smoking, not getting enough sleep and harboring resentments are a few behaviors that come to mind.

We know these things could damage our health, but it’s a decision we make at the time.

I recently talked with someone who was experiencing a lot of guilt about his situation. He felt like his behavior had caused his cancer to develop and now he and his family were suffering significantly. He was having a hard time forgiving himself for making the choices he’d made over the past several years.

Some activities may increase chances of developing cancer, but cancer can occur regardless of lifestyle choices. Some people do all the right things and still live with a cancer diagnosis.

When behavior puts us at risk, it’s important to forgive ourselves. Forgiveness doesn’t mean denying or justifying past behavior, but rather that we recognize everyone makes mistakes and are choosing to move forward in a positive manner.

Undergoing cancer treatment can be difficult on its own. Instead of holding on to guilt, focus on more positive thoughts and behaviors.

This can be challenging to work through and resolve. You may need to seek the help of a professional if guilt continues to be an emotional burden. Having an open and honest conversation with family and friends may provide the answers and support necessary to move on.

If you’ve ever struggled with this situation yourself or with a loved one following a cancer diagnosis, how did you work through it? Please share your thoughts.

Read more on the Living with Cancer blog here

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